“I am so, so excited about this weekend!” my co-worker said Friday, smiling broadly.
Me, “Yeah? Are you going to the (Mississippi) Book Festival? Or the leadership event the Stennis Institute is having? Or are you headed out of town? Or ….”
“No! I am so excited! I don’t have anything to do! Can you believe it? I can’t wait,” my friend explained.
This was one of several similar interactions I had with female friends and colleagues as the weekend loomed. Everyone was so. Incredibly. Excited. All to be doing exactly nothing!
The idea made me laugh, as I recalled my junior high and high school days, when no plans on the weekend left me sprawled out on the couch, dramatically complaining to my parents about how tragic it was that I “had absolutely no life.”
I called my best friend on the way home Friday night – just to say, oddly, that I would love to see her this weekend, but that really, I was just too darned tired. I needed to do nothing. She agreed that she, too, was tired. And that what she really needed was …. nothing. We had a good laugh, recalling our younger selves, who would have feared we were utter losers without plans.
I think there is something of a rebellion among women – especially moms – within my demographic. Women in their forties and fifties – often with children and aging parents – are just plain tired of being told they “need” to do – or have or be – one more thing.
A number of women I know are in a season of simplifying their lives. If a possession or time commitment (or even a relationship) doesn’t bring them joy or purpose they are cutting it loose.
Some are downsizing their homes, even as their children are growing and taking up more space than ever. I’ve known others who have scaled back their work lives, or resigned from prestigious community positions.
I’ve never been a person who has struggled to toss possessions that no longer bring me joy. (I got rid of a container someone gave me to heat up tortillas this morning because, well, why do I need an actual container for that?) I take pictures of my kids’ arts and crafts and toss those things, too. (If my mom has taught me anything, it’s that “Roaches and rats love paper, Muhneeeeek. Shudder.)
Commitments are a little tougher. I’m thankful for people who are interested in spending time with me – even when deep down they aren’t people I especially like or think like me. And I also am thankful for any of the organizations I am part of for believing in me and thinking that I have something to contribute. Sometimes I feel that if a person or organization is interested in me, I owe it to them to return the favor.
At the same time, I’m also realizing that if I don’t have that “nothing” time – time to just think and be and, perhaps, walk or run or sprawl – then I don’t have anything left to contribute. If I don’t have a little bit of “nothing” I become less of myself.
When I look at the times when I don’t write, they are always seasons when I am depleted. I’m so busy that I don’t have time to think beyond immediate decisions and needs. And without thought, creation can’t come – in my writing or in my work or in my home.
I think that’s what all those female friends were really saying on Friday.
“Thank God! Rest and rejuvenation is coming! Can you believe it?”
There is nothing boring about nothing. We need it. Badly. And we need to treasure it and protect it so that, come Monday, we are ready to begin building and creating and growing again.
So, “nothing” on, friends. Nothing …..